Television

Bilingual Hungama set for August launch

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MUMBAI: Hungama, the bilingual (Hindi and Tamil) kids' channel floated by UTV and to be distributed by Star India, will begin airing by 'a Sunday in August 2004', says a confident UTV CEO Ronnie Screwvala.

The channel, that fills the need for a children's channel in Star's bouquet will be priced between Rs 4 and 8, says Star India COO Sameer Nair. At a media briefing to announce the five year distribution alliance between the two entities in Mumbai today, Nair reiterated that Hungama's coming on board the Star platform would be no hindrance to the an alliance with the Disney channels that are also poised for an India entry. "Talks are on with Disney and we are definitely interested," he said.

Nair also said that talks are on with a European media house for bringing a similar channel to India on the Star platform, but that the deal was yet to be firmed up.

A split feed would be provided to provide Hungama TV in Tamil from day one for southern audiences, Screwvala said. The multi genre kids channel, will also kick off a nationwide kids' captains hunt this weekend that will get together a batch of children who would act as the advisory board of directors which will oversee the kind of programmes that Hungama will eventually have.

The Hungama team, headed by COO Purnendu Bose, has already screened 274 concepts, out of which 60 projects have been commissioned for pilots.

Both Nair and Screwvala pointed out that while other kids' channels in India have satisfied the need for animation content, original content in Hindi that caters to the live action, adventure, fantasy and thriller genres for the 315 million under 15 kids in the country, is still lacking on the existing channels.

UTV, which will also create some content inhouse for the homegrown channel, has thus far produced the hugely popular (thrice as popular as the highest rated show on Cartoon Network, according to Nair) Shaka Laka Boom Boom, for Star Plus, and Nair believes that Hungama should work, as this proves that 'Hindi language fictional programming does work.'

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